The Agony of Being
Connected to Everything
in the Universe [what?]

by Andrew Boyd [who?]
jan '02 • w.w.norton

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Reinterpret the great existential masters! Win prizes!
Submit your own reinterpretation and win! [win what?]

Submissions so far:


41. German imagines Sartre living in Compton:

"Hell is other peeps."


40. C. J. Kershner tells us the following: As a jaded young person who is tired and discontent with the society into which he has been so cruelly thrust, I feel it is my right, nay my duty, to give you my take on Nietzsche:

"Life is a mistake."

It's a rather dramatic reinterpretation of his quote, "Without music, life would be a mistake." But I like it dammit, and that's good enough for me.


39. A fellow named "Mandas" mixes it up:

"Thank God I'm an atheist."


38. Elmo, from Sydney, puts a cautionary spin on Churchill / Roosevelt / Lincoln and all the other people this quote has been attributed to:

"We have nothing to fear, but not fearing itself."


37. "Malingered" on Sartre's chef:

"Existence precedes essence of chicken."


36. Colleen Carroll riffs off of can-you-guess-who?:

"We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are -- that is the bitch."


35. Jennifer Kelly pops pop-psych:

"If I have one more character building experience to work through, I'll become a schizophrenic."


34. Michael Adamson puts the dialectic back in Jesus:

"Seek and ye shall not find anything but your own projections."


33. Azlan Ibrahim chanced upon an early draft of Wallace Stevens' Metaphors of a Magnifico:

"Twenty men crossing a bridge into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges into twenty villages,
Ah, if only there had been a toll."


32. J. Maynard Presley recasts the opening line of Camus' The Stranger:

"My dog died yesterday; or was it my cat?"


31. In Nathan Bruynzeel's alternate history of philosophy, Descartes discovers sex mid-career:

"Coital ergo sum."


30. Joshua Perdue changes Bataille, but only slightly:

"I have not meant to express a thought but to help you clarify that you yourself do not think."


29. Megan Riordan re-figures Spinoza:

"Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand. Then exploit the hell out of it."


28. Stef Maruch, put Carpe Diem through one of those Latin-to-English on-line translation services, and got:

"Fish for ten cents."


27. An ANONYMOUS government employee, goes after Socrates:

"I know that I know only enough to keep this job, and keep you waiting in line."


26. Kristen Haynes confuses DesCARTes with a lunch CART:

"Rosito ergo yum (I'm pink, therefore I'm ham)."


25. Karl Lind reworks Nietzsche:

"We are all greater bullshit artists than we realize."


24. In our first meta-interpretation, SAFH100 offers (Matt) Hanson's reinterpretation the guy [see #2, above] who reinterpreted Samuel Beckett:

"I can't go on. I'll go on. Are you going to eat that?."


23. Anthony Notoary , self-described backslidden devotee of the abyss, makes the last line from Camus' The Stranger, even stranger:

"For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of news reporters, corporate sponsors and Hollywood producers and that they greet me with sensationalism, licensing agreements and development deals." [see original quote]


22. Renee Riddle de- or re- paradoxifies Robert Frost:

"The best way out is out."


21. Chris Caruso re-boots Sartre:

"Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them...there is Bill Gates."


20. Laurie Stewart imagines Hamlet with early Alzheimers:

"To be, or not to be....What was the question?."


19. Christine Lorenz gives us a more practical take on Wittgenstein's conclusion to the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must change the subject to something we can all enjoy."


18. Michael Goetz gives us Contempo MacBeth:

"Life is a tale told by a telepundit, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

17. Laurie Stewart :

"The value of any Solution to a Problem can be guaged by how quickly the Solution becomes a Problem."


16. K.D. Williamson (I'm not sure if this is about hunter-gatherer societies or domestic violence):

"That which does not kill me makes me dinner."


15. Nu Magic has Wayne & Garth channelling Descartes:

"I think therefore I am. Not!"


14. Angele Ellis re-interprets Nietzsche in light of recent findings from post-traumatic stress research:

"What doesn't kill you, makes you stranger."


13. Gabriel J Shapiro packs Nietzsche off to the suburbs:

"In times of grease, a warlike man sets upon the barbecue."


12. Doris Lajoie, in lieu of Tempus Fugit (time flies):



11. Victoria Herd has Sartre and Harlan Ellison over for the game:

"In your most insignificant actions, there is an enormous amount of television watching."


10. Randy Urbano gives Descartes a Buddhist/nihilistic turn:

"I am enlightened, therefore I am not."


9. Liz Buckley, self-described housewife:

"When the going gets surreal, the surreal get paid."


8. Leslee Trammell :

"There is a Pope, but not for us." (Kafka, during his brief and historically overlooked flirtation with Presbyterianism)


7. Andrew Cornell reconfigures Nietzsche for the current recession:

"When you look long into the abyss, the abyss will look into your credit rating."


6. Valerie Greet reinterprets Pogo for the post-9/11 world:

"We have met the enemy and he is us. Now, how do we keep him out of the country?"


5. Pablo Zumarán, from Brazil:

"Hell is older people." (Sartre, at 5)


4. David Huckle, 15 years old, rephrases Nietzsche for his generation:

"Christians wish sex wasn't fun, because it would make sin seem impossible, and turn hell into a legend." [see original quote]


3. James Schumann, AKA Xenopscylla Cheopis, undoes 400 years of Cartesian rationality:

Cogito ergo eh* (I think therefore so what)
*eh, feh, ech, ecch, [bl]ech; a guttural sound of indifference.


2. Michael Barrish has updated the end to Beckett's trilogy:

"I can't go on. I'll go on. What's up with that?"


1. The Lee Winkelman Corrollary (to Nietzsche):

"What doesn't kill you, could very easily maim you."


Submit your own reinterpretation and win! [win what?]

Also: check out the crystallize-an-aspect-of-the-post-modern-condition- into-an-imperative-self-help-instruction-for-the-missing-#366-leap-year- slot-in-my-other-book contest.